By Josh Weiss, NFTY-MAR Member
I have spent two straight summers at URJ Camp Harlam and both were truly spectacular. There are too many amazing things that I did to list them all, but the most important part of camp to me is the people. Climbing the tower and paddle boarding on the lake are great memories, but it isn’t the activities at camp you fall in love with, it’s the people you do them with. I met many of my closest friends at Camp Harlam, and I will be friends with them for a long time to come.
The Jewish aspects of Camp are extremely important to me as well. Chapel on the Hill, where Friday night Shabbat services are held at Camp Harlam, is one of the holiest places on Earth to me. In Chavurah, my unit, we had a program several times a week called Free U(niversity). Rabbis came to us and gave us a variety of topics to have discussions on. Then we would get to pick which one we wanted to talk about and go with the rabbi who was leading that discussion. We discussed things from extremism to animal rights in the Torah to how Israeli basketball affects Zionism. I learned many things from Free U, and I will now be able to teach them to others. Knowing that you are in an atmosphere where everyone is Jewish and that you all have a common religion really builds a sense of community. Even when we aren’t doing things that directly correlate to Judaism, we have a sense of connection to our religion through the people that we are with and being at camp.
I am proud to say that I have been able to bring things that I learned from camp back to my community. I am the Religious and Cultural Vice President of my temple youth group and I incorporate many songs and programs that I learned at camp into our youth group activities. I led a Shabbat service for my whole congregation at my temple a couple weeks ago and I had a Kabbalat Shabbat, like at camp, and used a few songs from camp in my service, and everyone had a great time. I was so happy that I could use things from camp that I loved and they had the same effect on other Jews in my community.
I am so happy to say that I was able to go to URJ Camp Harlam these past two years, and the only thing that I wish I could change about it would be to have found out about it sooner, and started going from a younger age. That way, I could have spent more incredible summers there with the friends I now call family.